Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Hotel Maid's Confession

This is what a hotel maid, Allison Rupp who worked at Yellowstone National Park's historic Old Faithful Inn in 2004 had to say in a recent article on Yahoo regarding the cleanliness of hotel rooms.

The best guests sleep in
Three simple letters could inspire the "Hallelujah" chorus: DND, or do not disturb. One sign hanging on a doorknob, and the day's work was shortened by half an hour. Two signs? Pure heaven, but only if they remained there until my eight-hour shift ended—otherwise I'd have to circle back and clean the rooms. My daily list of 15 rooms (out of 325 in the hotel) consisted of DOs (due out) and Os (occupied), which in housekeeping lingo meant the guests were scheduled to check out or were staying another night. An occupied room was less labor-intensive (making the beds rather than changing the sheets saved me 20 minutes), but there was always the possibility the guest would stay in the room while you worked. One man watched me clean his entire room, from scrubbing the toilet to emptying the trash—and told me at the end that I was "building character." Condescension is not nearly as encouraging to a maid as a couple of dollars.

As long as it looked clean
I cut corners everywhere I could. Instead of vacuuming, I found that just picking up the larger crumbs from the carpet would do. Rather than scrub the tub with hot water, sometimes it was just a spray-and-wipe kind of day. After several weeks on the job, I discovered that the staff leader who inspected the rooms couldn't tell the difference between a clean sink and one that was simply dry, so I would often just run a rag over the wet spots. But I never skipped changing the sheets. I wouldn't sink that low, no matter how lazy I was feeling.

A bacterial wonderland
I was disgusted by the many guests I came in contact with through the things they left behind: the hairs on the pillow, the urine on the toilet seat, the half-eaten cookie, the stained sheets. One woman had soiled her sheets so thoroughly that we had to toss them in a biohazard bag—they could never be used again. Rooms where young kids stayed were the worst, with food ground into the carpet and piles of used diapers in the trash. That kind of demoralizing mess could take 45 minutes to clean up. Most maids wore rubber gloves when they worked, but mine were too big, so I discarded them. Unsurprisingly, I got the flu twice.

Not for love — or money
I didn't know maids received tips, so it took me weeks to realize that the coins left in rooms were an intentional gift. My tips were paltry: I almost never received more than $1, and at times guests left religious pamphlets. One day, however, I was shocked to find a crisp $100 bill lying on a table. Although the generous tip put a little spring in my step and compelled me to do a better job that day, it didn't change my work ethic for long. I apologize to you now if you ever stayed in one of my rooms. You deserved better. But if housekeepers were paid more than minimum wage—and the tips were a bit better—I might have cleaned your toilet rather than just flushed it.

Be careful when you stay at hotels people. Yuck!


21 People saying stuff:

TravelDiva said...

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEWWWWW. Was she working at a 4 or 5 star? LOL. That's disgusting. I carry two cans of Lysol to every hotel. My fiance thinks I'm a nut when I'm spraying EVERYTHING, but I saw a special on Oprah about all the "mess" found on remote controls, bed sheets, phones, etc. that I HAVE to do something.

K.Rae said...

Hmmmm....I think I'll start tipping hotel maids from now on. I might not get a clean toilet out of the deal, but at least it'll put some good karma out into the universe.

B said...

I read an article like this (could've been the same one) on MSNBC. I can't say some of this stuff surprises me though.

CarmenSinCity said...

Gross!!!! That is very scary!

Karyn Beach said...

They also don't wash the comforters that often. I remember back during the Mike Tyson rape trial, I read an article that said they couldn't get a reliable DNA sample from the comforter because there were TOO MANY stains and samples to find the right one.

Jeni said...

I'm not excusing her laxity in her work but I do understand the logic fully. Having worked as a waitress for many years and having had to clean up lots of messes left behind in the restaurant, it is a bit demoralizing for the worker who depends on tips for a living to have to clean up the gross and nasty stuff people leave behind. I don't know what minimum wage is now for waitresses, but back when I was doing that work, it was a low of $1.91 an hour for several years and then later, was upped to $2.85 an hour. Which wasn't that terrible if everyone had tipped between 10 and 20 percent of their bill and provided it wasn't a family with little kids who flung food all over the table, booth and/or floor -or worse, threw up, leaving the staff to clean the mess. We even had a drunk who crapped himself while sitting and eating breakfast at 3 a.m.! We -the other waitresses and I -took that chair outside, hosed it off when the rush died down and then, left the chair outside for the owner to dispose of it! Ah, the things some have to do to try to make a living and just exist.

The Ambiguous Blob said...

Note to self: Tip well, tip often.

1/3 said...

urghh...I just came from a hotel stay....I think they need to be paid more...tips arent gonna get the job done. I will at least leave something for the maids

Tonya said...

I totally believe that, before reading her confessions. That is why they gross me out!

Suze said...

Oh gross!

Emeritus said...

oh i read this! i was like, please let them all never stop so low as to not change the sheets.

Queen-Size funny bone said...

I spray everything and bring my own pillow.

Gwen Ann Wilson said...

Oh no! Is this for real? OMG...
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Melissa said...

I guess this is why I sleep on a bath towel in the bed and put another towel on the pillow! I also never walk barefoot in a hotel room, the thought alone is just nasty!

lisaq said...

Yeah. Taking Lysol with me on my next hotel stay.

shorty said...

From the time I check in until the time I check out the DND sign is on my door, whether I'm there or not. It's my room for the weekend or week and whatever condition it's in, I'll live with it. I of course will call down stairs and get towels brought up and anything else I need, but I don't need a maid. I can pick up and clean up after myself. And save myself the $20.

SSC~ The Domestic Diva said...

I was going to post the same thing when I read it. Gross right it makes me want to take Clorox wipes and my own sheets when I travel. GROSS.

My friend went to Vegas and stayed at a hotel that started with an H, on the strip. They were itching and found out they had Ticks. Yes there was a whole bed of them behind the bed board.

Gross, and they brought their kids.

Ohh there is no place like home! At least I know who's urine is on the toilet seat! Gotta love boys!

Amber said...

This makes me feel slightly ill. I watch VERY carefully to see how clean it is. If it's job well done, I definitely always tip the maid. If not? I have been known to call them back in.

Tanyetta said...

nasty!

Torrance Stephens - All-Mi-T said...

i know thats right,nasty

Filipina Dating said...

Yikes! It is so gross and one should really practice cleanliness all the time.